Almost the entire Washington, D.C. metro area is undergoing tremendous growth. From the bourgeoning Bethesda scene to Merrifield’s new Mosaic District, new spots in and around this city are plentiful. And there’s one neighborhood that is really experiencing the benefits of this boom, opening some of the neatest spots in the city, although you rarely read or hear about them.
In South Arlington, the stretch of Columbia Pike that runs from Glebe Road all the way to the Pentagon, high-end cocktail bars are opening next door to bustling Mexican restaurants that are down the street from rustic taverns.
This influx of restaurants, shops and bars has been relatively rapid, with numerous places opening up in just the past 12 months. But whenever an area develops, there’s always one early adopter that place that starts the trend and allows the rest to follow.
That place, for South Arlington, is Twisted Vines Bottleshop & Bistro. Twisted Vines is an intimate wine bar located just a couple doors down from what previously was the neighborhood’s biggest draw, the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse.
The hip yet comfortable wine bar opened in 2010. It was opened by longtime locals, a couple who wanted to see their part of Arlington have spots they would love to hang out at.
It’s been a success, with Twisted Vines one of the most popular spots in the suddenly happening corridor.
The wine bar’s entrance is right on Columbia Pike. The space inside is narrow, evocative of a row house bar in Washington, D.C. It gives the bistro a very intimate feel. At the front of the space are tables for dining. Along the right of the restaurant are high-topped tables for two, snuggled against the wall for a feeling of privacy, even in the small space.
The best spot, though, in the bistro is right at the bar, a creamy white and grey stone slab. Cushy stools without backs add to your comfort. Hanging above is a large chalkboard with the evening’s offerings. The bar always serves a variety of whites and red wines, with zinfandels from California intermingling with Cabernet’s from France and Tempranillo’s from Spain. Glasses are reasonably priced, ranging between $8-12.
The list changes frequently, so be sure to quiz the knowledgeable bartenders, who are always happy to give advice on selections. Alongside the wine list is an excellent selection of craft beers in cans or bottles.
Twisted Vines isn’t just about wine and beer; they also have a small yet tasty menu. Wine bar staples such as cheese and charcuterie are available, but you’d be remiss if you skipped on the restaurant’s flatbreads.
These are upscale takes on traditional pizzas, with scrumptious options such as duck confit with spinach and Fontina, or a blend of red onion, bacon and gorgonzola. And for under $10, these flatbreads are one of the best values on the menu.
But that isn’t the only value Twisted Vines provides. Past the bar, in the back of the bistro, is a wine shop. Like the glass of pinot noir you are sipping? Ask the bartender and he’ll produce a bottle for you, selling not at restaurant, but retail prices. The shop doesn’t just contain wines they serve though. Twisted Vines has hundreds of bottles you can peruse and pick up to take back to your house.
Although with an atmosphere as inviting as Twisted Vines, why would you ever want to leave?
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